I'm watching the Olympics pairs skating with my wife right now. They skate so perfectly, in unison, making it look easy and strong and graceful. All of these incredible moves and they're both kicking their legs at the same time, spinning together, parting and returning to each other with sensual embraces.
The passion and intensity. They both look healthy, rested and fit. The commentators are in awe, “Look at that elevation, it’s absolutely fantastic! Here’s their rotation – PERFECT! Watch their emotion and connection with each other – it’s dazzling!” Lovely bows and kisses to the cheering crowd. Leaving the ice with roses thrown at their feet. And, all in HD. But this one Olympic performance did not include the years of hard work, the training, the cost, the highs and lows and disappointments in self and each other. That’s why I also enjoy the side stories on the athletes and what their real life is like. This is easier to identify with. Instead of perfect feelings we see they’re human just like us. But understanding each other’s feelings does not have to be complex.
One thing to know about our partner’s emotions is context. What was their day like today? What influenced them today? What were the stresses? All of us are looking for buffers against those stresses and we want our partner to celebrate our small victories. Just listening to your partner talk for a few minutes – what emotional/feeling words are they using? That’s a key into how they are feeling. Validating those by saying something supportive helps. But this works on the other end too – do we have too many emotional/feeling words? This is known as flooding the other person. Think waves and waves of problems, stresses, and needs washing over the other partner. Hard to handle. On the other hand, some folks have difficulty letting out any emotion. If connecting with our emotions is difficult it might be easier to express a thought we had today. So, knowing the stresses our partner had today, what simple and straightforward thing can we do to them or for them that gives support right now?